The Crusader helmet refers to the type of helmet that was popularly worn by the European knights during the medieval Crusades. The Crusades began in the 11th century and continued until the 15th century.
During this period, the helmets used by the crusading knights evolved significantly in their shape and design.
The most popular helmet and first helmet used by the crusader knights was the flat top Great Helm. The Great Helm offered many advantages to the crusaders but also came with some disadvantages.
The cylinder shaped Crusader helmet was typically designed for maximum protection. For this purpose, it was heavily built and made from iron, weighing as much as 10 pounds.
The helmet was usually flat-topped and had tiny slots for the eyes and mouth. These eye slots were called Occulariums.
Some variations of the crusader helmet came with a curved design at the top so as to mitigate the possibility of receiving heavy blows to the top of the head to which the flat-topped version was susceptible.
Since the crusader helmet could quickly heat up when directly under the sun, later pieces of cloth were added to help save its exterior from the direct heat of the sun.
The crusader helmet evolved sometime at the beginning of the 13th century.
By the mid-13th century, this type of helmet had gained widespread usage among European knights. Although the helmet was very effective in warding off blows, it was cumbersome to wear.
Crusading knights often took off the helmet after the initial clash in the battles and continued fighting with the coif or the iron skull cap they wore under it known as a Cervelliere.
In combat, the bascinet eventually became more useful than the crusader helmet. And so, the crusader helmet fell into disuse in the 15th century. However, it continued to be used in non-combat situations such as in knight tournaments.
Although it was quite useful in many ways, the crusader helmet also came with some disadvantages.